Cost benefit of not removing termite mounds in the pasture
Hélida Ferreira da Cunha, Gisele Gonçaves Oliveira , Hélida Ferreira da Cunha
CCET, Universidade Estadual de Goiás, Anápolis, GO, Brasil; CCET, Universidade Estadual de Goiás, Anápolis, GO, Brasil ; CCET, Universidade Estadual de Goiás, Anápolis, GO, Brasil
For farmers, the presence of termite mounds in the pasture promotes loss of livestock area and grazing depreciation. In order to avoid such losses, some farmers remove mounds from the pasture and use termicides (fipronil or imidacloprid), despite damage to the environment and human health. Others abandon pastures and search for new areas, increasing deforestation. However, termites perform important ecosystem services, such as soil aeration, decomposition and nutrient cycling. Our premise is that nests are "nutrient islands" and that pastures without the removal of mounds are healthier. The research was carried out in a farm (-16.963374S; -49.183912N) in Hidrolândia-GO. We account 62 termite mounds per hectare occupying 0.23% of the pasture area. In 13 epigeal mounds of Cornitermes silvestrii we found 23 species (Termitidae): 10 humivorous, 7 litter-feeders and 6 intermediates. In soil samples from mounds, most of the nutrients were greater than in the 1.5m distant samples, especially zinc (P = 0.01). Nests with litter-feeder termites showed greater amounts of magnesium (P = 0.04), sulfur (P = 0.03) and zinc (P = 0.01) than nests with predominant humivorous and intermediate termites. The presence of humivorous termites in the pasture facilitates the conservation of physicochemical properties of the soil and allows the environment to be balanced avoiding spending in soil corrections. Thirteen farmers were interviewed regarding the management of pasture in relation to nests: mechanical removal (manual and with tractor), chemical removal (granular and liquid termiticide). The costs avoided if there is no removal of nests in the pastures, would be on average of US $ 2,944.65 per hectare per year in the farms surveyed. The pasture management proposal without using termiticides is viable both for farmers and for soil conservation, since abandoning the use of termiticides is a way to avoid environmental contamination and unnecessary financial costs.